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How to Keep Mentally Healthy During a Quarantine

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From VOA Learning English, this is the Health & Lifestyle Report.

Several governments around the world have requested or ordered their citizens to quarantine themselves: to stay at home to avoid contact with others.

Quarantines help slow the spread of diseases like COVID-19. It first appeared in China in late December and quickly became a worldwide health emergency.

Quarantines, however, can cause health problems themselves. People are at greater risk of anxiety and depression as a result of the isolation caused by quarantines.

So, health experts around the world are offering advice to help deal with the undesirable effects of quarantines on mental health.

Psychologist Claudia W. Allen is among them. She directs the behavioral science department at the University of Virginia School of Medicine. She leads the Family Stress Clinic there as well.

Keep your usual routine

Allen says continuing with normal routines as much as possible will help you stay healthy during quarantines. For example, she says people should continue to wake up and get dressed at their usual time. She says with some people staying in pajamas all day could lead to feelings of being unproductive or without purpose.

Make a plan

She also advises people to make plans. Write a list of activities and times for carrying them out. These activities might include cleaning your home, paying bills, making calls and preparing meals. Health experts also suggest eating your meals at your usual times.

Don't forget "self-care" activities

Allen says everyone should include "self-care" activities during quarantine, such as exercise, reading or playing musical instruments. Getting exercise is important. Even if you must stay indoors, make sure to move your body. Maybe seek some online exercise classes.

Keeping a list will help you balance the things you have to do and the things you want to do. Allen also suggests using a quarantine to develop a new skill or to learn about something.

A woman wearing a face mask takes a picture of a blossomed tree downtown in Prague, Czech Republic, Monday, March 23, 2020. Czech Republic has made it mandatory that all people must cover their mouths and noses in public to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
A woman wearing a face mask takes a picture of a blossomed tree downtown in Prague, Czech Republic, Monday, March 23, 2020. Czech Republic has made it mandatory that all people must cover their mouths and noses in public to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

Go outside

Like most health experts, Allen also advises people to make sure to spend time outdoors. Being in nature can help to ease boredom and other tensions of quarantine.

So, take a walk. Work in the yard if you have one. Start a garden. Explore some woods or wild areas. Get sunshine on your face. Wash your car or bicycle.

Use social media wisely

Social media does connect us. But too much of it might cause harm.

Psychologist Claudia Allen says some studies show that social media can make some people feel left out or "less than." She suggests using it wisely. One way is to meet with friends, family, neighbors and others over video messaging services.

Find ways to help

Allen says helping others is another way to lift your spirit during quarantine. This could be as simple as calling someone who is alone or greeting a neighbor from your window.

You could also provide a service online. For example, if you are a teacher, you could offer online homework help to friends who must now home-school their children.

And, keep a check on your own feelings. If you are experiencing difficulty from the effects of quarantine, contact a health care provider, a community organization or an emergency hotline number.

And that's the Health & Lifestyle report.

I'm Mario Ritter, Jr.

If you are under quarantine, let us know how you are coping. How are you keeping your mental health strong?

Anna Matteo wrote this story for VOA Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.

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Words in This Story

anxiety n. fear or nervousness about what might happen​

isolation n. the state of being in a place or situation that is separate from others : the condition of being isolated

psychologist n. a person who specializes in the study of mind and behavior or in the treatment of mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders

routine n. a regular way of doing things in a particular order

pajamasn. a loose usually two-piece lightweight suit designed especially for sleeping or lounging

boredomn. the state of being weary and restless through lack of interest

yard n. the grounds immediately surrounding a house that are usually covered with grass

cope – v. to deal with and attempt to overcome problems and difficulties —often used with with

hotline n. a direct telephone line in constant operational readiness so as to facilitate immediate communication​

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